February 2010 Indie Next List
“Get ready to head south from Kingdom Counry with Morgan Kinneson, who is in search of his brother Pilgrim in the midst of the Civil War. With a rune-covered rock from a hunted slave who made it as far as Vermont, Morgan maps his way south, encountering all manner of despicable and heroic figures by turn. This is Howard Frank Mosher's best told story yet, recounted in language and with a voice that will echo in readers' heads long after the book is closed.”
— Linda Ramsdell, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
A stunning and lyrical Civil War thriller, Walking to Gatlinburg is a spellbinding story of survival, wilderness adventure, mystery, and love in the time of war.
Morgan Kinneson is both hunter and hunted. The sharp-shooting 17-year-old from Kingdom County, Vermont, is determined to track down his brother Pilgrim, a doctor who has gone missing from the Union Army. But first Morgan must elude a group of murderous escaped convicts in pursuit of a mysterious stone that has fallen into his possession.
It’s 1864, and the country is in the grip of the bloodiest war in American history. Meanwhile, the Kinneson family has been quietly conducting passengers on the Underground Railroad from Vermont to the Canadian border. One snowy afternoon Morgan leaves an elderly fugitive named Jesse Moses in a mountainside cabin for a few hours so that he can track a moose to feed his family. In his absence, Jesse is murdered, and thus begins Morgan’s unforgettable trek south through an apocalyptic landscape of war and mayhem.
Along the way, Morgan encounters a fantastical array of characters, including a weeping elephant, a pacifist gunsmith, a woman who lives in a tree, a blind cobbler, and a beautiful and intriguing slave girl named Slidell who is the key to unlocking the mystery of the secret stone. At the same time, he wrestles with the choices that will ultimately define him – how to reconcile the laws of nature with religious faith, how to temper justice with mercy. Magical and wonderfully strange, Walking to Gatlinburg is both a thriller of the highest order and a heartbreaking odyssey into the heart of American darkness.
About the Author
Widely celebrated for his essays on travel and nature, Edward Hoagland has written more than twenty books. Both fiction and nonfiction, his works include "Cat Man" (his first book, which won the 1954 Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship), "Walking the Dead Diamond River" (a 1974 National Book Award nominee), "African Calliope" (a 1980 American Book Award nominee), and "The Tugman's Passage" (a 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee). He worked at the Barnum & Bailey Circus while attending Harvard in the early 1950s and later traveled around the world writing for "Harper's, National Geographic", and other magazines. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships and in 1982 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hoagland was the editor of "The Best American Essays" 1999, and taught at The New School, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, CUNY, the University of Iowa, UC Davis, Columbia University, Beloit College, and Brown University. In 2005, he retired from a teaching position at Bennington College in Vermont. He lives in northern Vermont.
Praise for Walking to Gatlinburg
An Indie Next Notable Pick
"Mosher is a rare storyteller, able to both instruct and entertain, and he brings all his talents to this unforgettable and unique novel."
"A Civil War odyssey in the tradition of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Robert Olmstead’s Coal Black Horse, Mosher’s latest, about a Vermont teenager’s harrowing journey south to find his missing-in-action brother, is old-fashioned in the best sense of the word....The story of Morgan’s rite-of-passage through an American arcadia despoiled by war and slavery is an engrossing tale with mass appeal.
"We are in the hands of a skilled storyteller, and every word matters. A captivating story, and one that cries for a sequel."
–Kirkus, starred review
"[A] haunting and hallucinatory novel....Historical realism this isn’t but it is a violent, often puzzling picaresque with an invigorating take on the Underground Railroad and an unsettling vision of an America despoiled by the War between the States."
Praise for Howard Frank Mosher
“Mosher is an old-fashioned writer, a storyteller of the first order; he has written a page-turner in the best sense of the word.”
“A combination of Ernest Hemingway, Henry David Thoreau, and Jim Harrison.”
–Los Angeles Times
“Mosher calls to mind the best of Mark Twain – mischievous, touching, and very funny.”
“Rollicking, boisterous, sprawling, and highly entertaining.”
“Revives the tall tale with remarkable grace and intelligence … delightful.”
“Mosher is a gifted storyteller with a solid sense of place and history.”
–Cleveland Plain Dealer
“One of our very best writers … Mosher offers us a landscape, both natural and human, worth knowing, worth believing in.”